After weeks of speculation, Stefan De Vrij's future has landed with Serie A club Lazio, a move that was announced on Monday by the club.
James Horncastle also confirmed news of the move:
Lazio sign @Stefandevrij!— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) July 28, 2014
The Feyenoord centre-back—fiercely linked with a move to Manchester United, per James Dickenson of the Express—is set to join Stefano Pioli's revolution at the Stadio Olimpico. His transfer will raise just €8.5 million for the Dutch side, who were resigned to selling their talented defender after his excellent World Cup form.
Feyenoord sporting director Martin van Geel previously confirmed "it is logical for the player to leave, but it has to be for the right club and the right price," per RTV Rijnmond and via Ben Jefferson of the Express. Lazio appear to have met the hierarchy's demands.
The Italian side have acquired an intelligent, hard-working player who is only set to improve at the age of 22. He was often utilised alongside Ron Vlaar at the aforementioned Brazil tournament, where his ability to read tackles and dominate in the air came to the fore.
Considering Louis van Gaal's 3-4-3 tactics, United were widely thought to be weighing up a move for De Vrij. In a summer that has seen the club spend £27 million on improving its defence with Luke Shaw, the approximate price tag of £6.7 million appeared a real bargain.
Lazio acted most decisively, meaning Van Gaal will now have to replace Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic with alternative targets. Samuel Luckhurst of the Huffington Post believes the Red Devils were never truly interested:
De Vrij likely to join Lazio for £8.5m, although United were never seriously interested. Thought he looked awkward on the ball at World Cup.— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) July 28, 2014
De Vrij's presence in Rome does appear something of a sidestep at best. Feyenoord finished just four points behind Eredivisie winners Ajax last season and will take part in next season's Champions League. Lazio have no European football to enjoy during the 2014-15 campaign after finishing ninth, having accumulated exactly half of Juventus' championship-winning total of 102 points.
Is Stefan De Vrij a bargain at the reported sum of €8.5 million?
The Eagles finished with a goal difference of zero, a problem De Vrij will be expected to significantly improve during his time with the club. Juve's total dominance and Roma's summer spending ensures Lazio's best chances of silverware come in the Coppa Italia, especially with clubs such as Napoli, Fiorentina, Inter and AC Milan building throughout the summer.
De Vrij joins a rapidly changing Lazio lineup and will slot in alongside right-back Dusan Basta, recently signed from Udinese, per Sky Sports. Midfielder Marco Parolo and forward Filip Djordjevic have also joined the club, who are used to competing for honours. Low-risk investments are being made on individuals who can make a difference, as building strength in depth remains a priority.
Many clubs may look back on De Vrij's move as something of a missed opportunity. With his age and potential, there's no doubt this is something of a smart deal from Lazio. Even if the developing player fails to impress, little money can be lost when the time comes to sell.
De Vrij has the powerful, game-reading qualities to be a huge success in Serie A, where he will aim to further his name.